Merced City Council to discuss local-bid preference

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comAugust 19, 2013 

— The process of awarding bids to local and out-of-the-area companies is on the agenda for the Merced City Council today.

The council is set to discuss whether city staff feasibly could draw up a local-bidder preference procedure that would stand up to challenges in court.

As part of that discussion, council will discuss whether it is worth the time city staff would expend researching and writing the procedure.

The request to look at the procedure was made at a July meeting.

The change would require City Council to define a number of parameters: What is the definition of "local"? What if the business has a local storefront, but is a chain store? What competitive disadvantage do local businesses have that justify a preference?

City staff estimate that the procedure change would take a year, and could slow the processing of other projects.

Some of the projects potentially delayed include fiscal planning, high-speed rail station planning and a panhandling ordinance.

Also at the meeting, the council will decide whether to award Austin, Texas-based Hellas Construction Inc. with the contract to install the synthetic turf at McNamara Park. The company's bid is $630,543, the lowest of nine estimates.

Synthetic turf is seen as a way to conserve water.

Money for the project comes from a $2.6 million grant Merced received in 2010 to upgrade the park.

Changes planned for the park include new playground equipment, a new restroom facility, security cameras and a picnic area.

Reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or by email at tmiller@mercedsunstar.com.

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